“From end to end, the whole process can take weeks or months,” explains Ohanian. “You need to get an adjuster to climb up on the roof, take pictures, send the pictures to the insurance company to review and approve the damages, then send it to a third party for repair estimates—a lengthy process for insurers and their customers.
Developers see an expansive future for cognitive drone apps
The drone market is set to rapidly infiltrate myriad industries and public services, with innovators like Trice leading the way. “They’re starting to be used in everything from inspection of infrastructure to crop analytics, bridge inspections, surveying… the drone is a flying sensor. It captures information that can be used to drive decisions that impact real-world things.”
Among possible uses for drones equipped with visual recognition:
- Firefighters can attach thermal imaging cameras to a drone and immediately see where the hotspots are in a forest fire.
- Search and rescue teams can use them to look for heat signatures to find someone lost in the wilderness.
- Farmers can use them to determine the health of crops and make decisions affecting crop yield.
- Surveyors can create a 3D visualization of a construction site as the structure is being built.
Using drones to keep people out of harm’s way
“One of my favorite use cases for drones is in power line inspection,” says Trice. “To do this job, people literally hang out of the window of a helicopter flying at low altitude and take pictures. It’s one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and people die doing it every year. If drones are used to gather the imagery, these inspections can be performed without putting people in harm’s way.
“The drone market is being compared to where cell phones were 15 years ago,” he adds. Commercial drones themselves range in price from under USD1,000 to upward of USD100,000, with most falling in the low end of that scale. “At first, people tend to think of them as toys, but once they get a vision of what drones can do, they run with it. We’re still at the very early stages of developing solutions, but the potential is enormous.”